Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Modern Love

I'm not going to try and paint a rosy picture about this development. Yesterday the Magic community was  told that tomorrow the commons from Modern Masters 2017 would be legal to play in Pauper. Today we found out that was no longer the case and they would be delayed a month.

The announcement has left me frustrated.

I am not going to try and put a shine on this - it sucks. Wizards had a deadline and they missed it. They came out and told us but that does not change the fact that they are not delivering on expectations. 

I'm not happy about the situation. I reached out to Lee Sharpe for a statement and he sent me this (which I am sharing with his permission):

Unfortunately, an issue has resulted in the cards that are newly common in Modern Masters 2017 not legal in Pauper. This also applies to the commons that will be added to Magic Online Treasure Chests starting March 22.
This issue will be addressed with the April 19 build.  Until that date, these new commons will not be legal in the Pauper format.  Players will be able to play them in Pauper beginning April 19.
This wasn’t the experience we wanted to create for Pauper players with this release, and our apologies to those of you who were excited to begin brewing with the new cards right away.

I did not expect to get a reason - I've dealt with Wizards enough to know better. 

So what does this mean for Pauper?

First I cannot in good conscience call for a boycott. For me, Magic and Pauper provides a much needed release and escape. In my case it's from a chronic illness and taking away the opportunity for me to find respite in an attempt to prove a point would be doing myself more harm than good. And if this is true for me it is possible it is the case for other Pauper players as well.

At the same time I cannot tell people that they should continue to hand over money to play in Pauper leagues. If you choose to stop playing please be sure to make sure your reason for doing so is known. 

Pauper, in all likelihood, will chug along as normal. Which is a shame.

Modern Masters 2017 presented the opportunity to reshape the format. Burning-Tree Emissary looks to be a card that can transform the metagame. Delver, the Blue aggro-tempo deck, has been at the apex of Pauper for years (excluding when Peregrine Drake was legal). Burning-Tree Emissary was poised to make a run up the standings. And that says nothing about the other extremely powerful cards coming to common like Augur of Bolas, Falkenrath Noble, and Thunderous Wrath.

Modern Masters 2017 was supposed to change everything. It may still do that, but we'll just have to wait a month.

What upsets me most about this is that it seems to be happening more often across all of Magic. From issues with the power level of Standard to the inability of Magic Online to host special events to the size and prize payouts at Grand Prix the quality assurance of the product has taken a dip. 

To be clear it's still great, but it definitely is not where it has been or should be.

I have one major thought on this phenomena: Magic has outgrown its current structure. 

The move from two year rotation to 18 month rotation (and back to two years) would have logically put pressure on Design and Development. Crafting the game for one system, then the other, then back, can create the kind of undue stress on the process that may have fostered the current state of Standard. The number of people playing Magic, both digital and analog, as well as the rate of new things, could make it harder to keep the program up to date. Grand Prix are massive events that ten times the size of their original incarnation.

In my opinion Magic needs more people working on the product. Lessen the burden of those making the cards and let them adjust to the new structure and hopefully mistakes decline. Give Magic Online more staff so that deadlines are hit as expected. Figure out how to make Grand Prix serve as a pro event and a mini-festival. 

We love Magic. The people who make Magic love Magic. We put our money into the game and I think it's fair to ask Wizards to put a little more of theirs into the pot to make sure this perceived quality dip is just a blip. 


Trevor said...

I responded to you on Twitter regarding this and might have been a little inarticulate with my thoughts (Twitter seems to lend itself to that). Reading through what you wrote I can see that what I was trying to say is similar to what you are saying here.

Playing Pauper usually requires that you play online unless you are lucky and have a local playgroup for paper (and sort through the mess that is paper vs online legality). That means that you are at the mercy of MTGO and it's failings. The same is true for any type of Magic you want to play online, but because Pauper has no official support in paper it is all the more apparent.

I believe these failings are the result of some lack in the level of support and resources that are devoted to: Magic in general, MTGO especially, and lastly Pauper. I would never expect the support levels for a format like Pauper to ever be what they are for any other unless the population of interested players vastly increased. We are just in a tiny corner of a little used room in the house that has much more important problems to worry about. That being said I think the least we can expect is that deadlines are met and the format gets the minimum of support it needs to stay relevant.

I think that this specific problem is a reflection of a greater problem. Building on what you stated we can see that the structure that supports Magic needs to adapt if the game is to continue to grow.

Sorry to rant I just felt like I could get my thoughts out in a more concise manner here. Thanks for the thoughts and commentary. I always look forward to seeing your perspective on developments in the Pauper community (I just hope the next thing we talk about is how awesome the new downshifts are instead of something negative like this).

Joshua Claytor said...


Thank you for reminding me that Magic is a release.

Anonymous said...

Maybe, another good reason to unify Paper Pauper and Online Pauper, to enjoy the new cards when the sets hit stores, not only MOL.